The key to a safe and healthy work environment is attention to detail and excellent preparation habits. understands the importance of safe kitchen habits and we would like to take the time to give you some helpful tips in preparing to make the best beef jerky possible.

*Familiarize yourself with the USDA Fact Sheet before embarking on your jerky making journey. Ensure your hands and all items that will come into contact with your jerky are clean and sanitary.

Have your butcher cut the meat into ¼” thick strips with a width of 1”-1 ½” and length of 4”-10”. Whether the butcher cuts it or you do at home, cut with the grain for chewy jerky and across the grain for more of a tender, brittle jerky but be sure and keep the trimmings if you would like to make ground beef later.


* 6”-8” knife
* Cutting board
* Measuring equipment
* Mixing utensil
* Mixing bowl (glass or ceramic, not metal)
* 2+ pans
* Paper towels
* Storage container
* Collect all your utensils and wash everything including your hands. Have no other food products in the area and keep raw meat away from cooked meat.

Use glass or ceramic containers when working with marinades, as many will react with metal. Allow roughly ½ cup of marinade for each pound of meat. Dip each piece of meat into marinade, coating well. Place in shallow glass dish. Pour remaining marinade over top, cover and refrigerate for anywhere between 8-36 hours. The marinade process time span is up to you but the longer, the better. Remember to “overhaul” the meat every few hours if you can so it will cure evenly. Since cure is mostly salt and sugar, replace 1ts of cure for 1ts of salt in your recipe for every five (5) pounds of meat. When the meat is ready, remove it from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels.

A basic marinade (for 2lbs of meat):

* ½ c Worcestershire sauce
* ½ c Soy Sauce
* 3 T Catsup
* 2 T Brown Sugar
* ½ t Onion Powder
* 1 ½ t Salt
* 1 Clove of garlic, minced well
* Pinch of Pepper

Curing is completely optional however, if you’re going to dry or smoke something at or below 150 degrees for any length of time, you need to cure it! Curing meat just involves adding “curing salts” (Tender quick, Instacure, or Prague Powder) to the meat and giving the “cure” time to work (about 12 hours). The “curing salt” consists of a mix of salt, sugar and sodium nitrite. The main purpose of the cure is to protect against bad bacteria like botulism, which thrives in low cooking temps, no oxygen or warm meat. Meat is cured by the use of sodium nitrite. Never use more jerky seasoning and cure mix than a recipe calls for. However, feel free to add and adjust any other spices, herbs or flavorings to suit your own taste.

The curing process used to make jerky will greatly reduce the gamy flavor of wild meats. Prepare deer and rabbit as described for beef. Game birds should be treated like chicken.

Morton makes three meat cures:

* Morton® Tender Quick® Mix
* Morton® Sugar Cure® Plain
* Morton® Sugar Cure® Smoke Flavored

**Only Morton® Tender Quick® and Morton® Sugar Cure® PLAIN are interchangeable measure for measure.

**Morton® Sugar Cure® Smoke Flavored is used for DRY curing ham and bacon only.

**Table salt or canning salt cannot be used in place of curing salt. If used, you will get salted meat but the color and flavor of the meat will not be properly developed.

Some people chose to add their spices and marinade all together and make it one step. However, if you would like to marinade and then season your meat, you will need to drain or pat dry and lay out to season.

Basic Spices to start out with:

* Salt
* Black Pepper
* Soy Sauce
* Worcestershire Sauce
* Brown Sugar/Honey

Other spices that are commonly used:

* Garlic Powder
* Onion Powder
* White Pepper
* Chile Powder
* Cayenne Powder
* Fresh Chiles
* Hot Sauce (my favorite)
* Garam Masala (Indian spice, mostly ground coriander, cumin, and cardamom)
* Cumin
* Lemon Pepper
* Sesame Oil
* Sesame Seeds
* Ground Ginger
* Fresh Ginger
* Green Onions
* Fresh Onion
* Dry Sherry
* Bourbon

Worst-case scenario, it’ll probably still taste good. However, if you can’t taste it in the jerky, it’s probably not a necessity next time but be sure and make note of what you used during your process.

Ingredients: Fresh fruit, water, lemon juice, sugar and optional spices – cinnamon and nutmeg. (4 cups of fruit yield about one baking sheet of fruit leather)

1. Rinse, remove blemishes, peel skin, pit, core, deseed and/or hull if needed. Cut fruit into chunks. Test a piece of the fruit and if it’s very sweet you will not need to add any sugar. If it’s still a little tart, you may need to add some sugar in the next step.
2. Place fruit in a large saucepan. Add a half-cup of water for every 4 cups of chopped fruit. Bring to a simmer, cover and let cook on a low heat for 10-15 minutes, or until the fruit is cooked through. Uncover and stir. Use a potato masher to mash up the fruit in the pan. Taste the fruit and determine what and how much sugar, lemon juice, or spices to add. Add sugar in small amounts (1 Tbsp at a time if working with 4 cups of fruit), to desired level of sweetness. Add lemon juice one teaspoon at a time to help brighten the flavor of the fruit. Add a pinch or two of cinnamon, nutmeg, or other spices to augment the flavor.
3. Continue to simmer and stir until any added sugar is completely dissolved and the fruit purée has thickened, another 5 or 10 minutes (or more).
4. Put the purée through a food mill or chinoise. Alternatively purée it thoroughly in a blender or food processor. Taste again and adjust sugar/lemon/spices if necessary. The purée should be very smooth.
5. Line a rimmed baking sheet with sturdy plastic wrap (the kind that is microwave safe). Pour out the purée into the lined baking sheet to about an 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness.
6. Place the baking sheet in the oven; try to keep any plastic wrap from touch the sides of the oven or the oven racks. Also try to make sure that the plastic wrap hasn’t folded back over on top of the purée. If this happens, the purée won’t dry out. Heat the oven to a low 140°F. If you have a convection setting, use it, it will speed up the process and help dry out the purée. Let dry in the oven like this for as long as it takes for the purée to dry out and form fruit leather, about 8-12 hours. The fruit leather is ready when it is no longer sticky, but has a smooth surface. Alternatives to the oven: food dehydratorWhen the fruit leather is ready, you can easily peel it up from the plastic wrap. To store it, roll it in its plastic wrap, put it in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator or freezer.


Do you want more information about making your own jerky? Download our Beef Jerky Recipes ebook while it's FREE and you'll also get a ton of tips, tricks and how-to videos to help you along your way! But's only free for a limited time!

40 Responses »

  1. by Gordon

    Exellent tips,very helpful.

  2. by Clara Montgomery

    Recipes sound great. Definitely going to trty them

  3. by mehnaz


  4. by bettie

    making today vey useful info.

  5. by Kevin Handy

    The information was interesting / helpful. I have made jerky for 10 years but didn’t know Morton made a complete cure.

    Question; does your company have any affiliations with Morton? Just curious……

  6. by HowdyDave

    Although I have several links on my site’s Jerky page, you give the most in depth information.

    Since you suggested Garam Masala, all sorts of options spring to mind (I have an Indian store just down the street.)

    Keep up the good work!

  7. by Jody

    Great info all around.

    I had no idea the risks of not curing when dehydrating.


  8. by randy/calif

    I am new to making jerky. I ordered morton tender quickmix cure. What measure per lbs is the norm for beef jerky. also i make 5lbs batches. thanks,Randy

  9. by JerkyRecipes

    Thanks for the question and comment Randy. Rule of thumb states that curing salt of any brand is 1/2 teaspoon to 1 1/2 teaspoons for up to 5 pounds of meat. For example, this recipe calls for 1 1/2 for 5 pounds… Hope this answered your question.

  10. by Jason

    I really love jerky but, because of Cluster Headache Disease, all nitrates and soy products are strictly off limits. Any suggestions for making something real, tasty and still safe for me to eat?

  11. by Itos

    I want to make a jerky…
    anybody have recipe of TRESHER SHARK?

  12. by lori

    Can anyone tell me how to make jerky for my dog. does the meat need to be cured? Any ideas on seasonings? tHANKS

  13. by Paul

    If you use 1/2 -11/2 teaspoons of cure for 5lbs. of meat, how much water do you use?

  14. by Chris

    Thanks for all infrmation I am very gratefull for evething. I am from mexico, and I am development a jerky enterpris. I Found this site very interesting an ussuful.

    Thank you again

  15. by JerkyRecipes


    You’re very welcome, we’re glad you enjoy all of the free information and recipes.

    Tell your friends. 🙂

  16. by Janet Newman

    I had a Magic Chef Electric Dehydrator and some of the trays broke so I bought another. It is a Ronco Food Dehydrator. But I have lost the book for my Magic Chef. It had a really great beef jerky receipe and I cannot find the receipe for the jerky anywhere. Does anyone have a receipe book from Magic Chef that can give me the receipe. Thanks

  17. by Alivia

    if you are going to cook it in the oven how long do you cook it for?

  18. by JerkyRecipes


    Thanks for the question! Take a look-see at our Dehydration Page for further details on all of the dehydration processes, including in the oven as you asked. Hopefully you find what you’re looking for.

  19. by Shep

    Similar question to Lori’s… Have a dog on a dietary allergy challenge. Feeding venison as main food and looking to try to make venison jerky for treats. Is salt or cure required for jerky process? Does the venison need to be cured if I freeze the finished product? Trying to keep this as natural and as additive free as possible. Thanks in advance for your advice.

  20. by JerkyRecipes

    Thanks for the question Shep,

    Many jerky products don’t have added preservatives, including curing salt of any kind. So I’d say it’s alright to make without curing preservatives, but you might want to confirm that with someone who knows a little something about canine nutrition first. My educated guess is that it’s perfectly fine doing the way you have in mind though, even with freezing some of the jerky afterwards.

    Take care.

  21. by Danette

    In a catalog awhile ago I seen a miniature version of a wringer washing machine that was used for wringing the liquid out of meat before marinating. Does anyone know what magazine/catalog it was in? Anyone know how I can purchase one? Thanks

  22. by Darian Paganelli

    Tried vacuum packing after adding spices and marinade to the sliced beef. Left it in the fridge for about 20 hours prior to drying it in a dehydrator. Works well, do not know if it there is any benefit to it as opposed to not vacuum packing it.

  23. by BILL

    am confused one recipe says marinate then set inonven at lowest temperature the next recipe syas if you are using the oven at low temperature you need cure, there is no cure in the recipe for venison sticks?? Can you help

  24. by Vickie

    I have a question. Do you still need to soak the meat before you make jerky?

  25. by Linda

    I too have been making jerky for some 30 years and just came across your site today…very nice…I have never used or had thought of salt curing first…glad have never gotten sick or died from not using that process with using either the oven or to check out more recipes and info..Thanks..nice work..

  26. by t duke

    making jerky how much Morton Sugar Cure Plain per lb.

  27. by t duke

    making jerky how much Morton Sugar Cure Plain per lb. of ground meat

  28. by Afishegg

    I would say the risks from bacteria would be much higher if you are using “game” meat. I have been making “beef” jerky for years and have never even heard of someone getting sick from it, I use a dehydrator (I think it only goes up to about 130 degrees or there abouts). I am not concerned about having to “cure” my meat beforehand unless I was going to use a game meat killed by a hunter like deer or hog or duck, but then again I don’t think “gamey” jerky sounds very appatizing in the 1st place hence I’ll never make it!

  29. by Brian

    How do I make a cure from scratch?

  30. by Bill

    Does anyone have any suggestions for a more tender beef jerky simular to the comercial “jack Links” style? Ive tried shorting the dehydriation process ( I use an electric wood smoker) Ive experminted whith varying temperature etc. I tastes great but Id like to perfect a more tender style product.

  31. by Virginia

    Thank you for this wonderful web-site. I appreciate all the information provided and hope to try some of the recipes soon. Especially helpful and advantageous are your tips and explanations on Safety, Storage, and Preparation.
    I expect that I’ll try various combinations of the recipes to suit my own taste, but I believe these are excellent guidlelines.

  32. by Paul Kenas

    I am trying to make beef jerky. I was unable to find “curing salt” per se, but I found Sugar Cure Plain at the feed and seed store. My question is: Can I safely use Sugar Cure for my beef jerky, and how much per pound of meat if I make it in a marinade? Also, I am going to use a food dehydrator to make it, so I was going to soak the meat in the marinade for 24 hours, then pick each piece up and place it on the dehydrator trays AS IT IS COMING OUT OF THE MARINADE. I WAS NOT GOING TO RINSE IT OFF OR PAT IT DRY AT ALL BEFORE DEHYDRATING IT. Is that safe, or will the jerky be too salty to eat? I was going to use the marinade you describe above. I never made jerky before, and I don’t want to make someone sick. I wanted the “curing salt” for its preservative properties, but the only way I can find it is in your sugar cure product. Will sugar cure provide the same strength of preservative qualities as the “curing salt”? Should I use the 1/2 ounce per pound of meat? Safe beef jerky is my goal. I’m only going to make a pound at a time.
    Thanks so much for your help!

  33. by 4_HardEight_4

    I use a whole “Girello” or “Eye of Round” cut..
    Trimmed of all external fat and cut to approx. ¼” thick then marinated overnight in the fridge..

    As a marinade base i use:
    ½c worcestershire sauce
    ½c soy sauce
    1Tbsp salt
    1Tbsp white pepper

    Then i add a pre-prepped store bought stir-fry marinade [usually about ½c] like “Coconut Rendang” or “Lemongrass” or “Teriyaki” or “Black Bean” etc etc.. Mostly i wing it, add a bit of this and a bit of that.. Trial and Error makes jerky fun 🙂 (errors still taste good) [try ¼c mustard + ¼c whiskey]

    I put the marinated beef straight onto the dehydrator racks and dry for 6 hours [Basic ‘Sunbeam’ 5 rack dehydrator]. Rotating after a couple of hours and then removing any finished jerky and reducing the racks until all is fully dehydrated [I’m no butcher so some pieces are always thicker than others]..

    Store in the fridge until eaten.
    [usually only lasts a week at most for me]
    My favorite is as above but using a “Lemongrass Pork” marinade packet.. goes great with a few beers…

    Enjoy 😉

  34. by Helen

    How does Jack Links keep their jerky so tender?

  35. by BillW

    I love jerky–all kinds, but I have a health condition that requires low (or no) sodium. Is there a way to cure meat that does not require salt?

    I had heard the term “sugar curing” and hoped it did not require the sodium. Alas, however, all of the sugar curing recipes I’ve found have it as one of the curing ingredients. Sugar curing had the added attraction (for me) that I love sweet-hot jerky.

    Any advice you can offer for someone who needs a low-sodium solution for jerky?

  36. by Cheryl

    First time doing jerky so not realty sure but please keep fingers crossed and will let you know if I did well. Thank you

  37. by Btlr44

    I am waiting on my jerky gun, to come in, on wed…I will be making the ground beef jerky, for first time…in a dehydrator….never done the grou d beef before…but, am told, it is much better, than the other..will see…the Ground beef, that, I have bought is like…95 % lean..5 % fat…I know, the leaner, the better…u can go and type in, on utube..for making ground beef jerky, and get some good ones..thought I would share…hagd

  38. by Btlr44

    I have the Weston big dehydrator…I was reading up above, where it isn’t necessary to cure your meat, if, over 150 degrees…I think I dehydrate mine on 155 or what ever the Weston says to put it on…155 to 165. Or something like that…

  39. by Justin

    I’ve been making jerky for years. I use a marinade and either smoke it or cook in oven at lowest temp possible. I’ve never used curing salt because I could never find it anywhere. Also have been making bacon and corned beef without curing salt. I recently ordered some curing salt from amazon, I’ve made Bacon and corned before using it but have yet to use it to make jerky, cuz IDK how much to use in my marinade.

    My question us how much curing salt should I use? Is there a recommended amount to use per cup of marinade? I have a good idea based off the amount I’ve used when brining corned beef and I’ve used both dry and wet cures for bacon.However I’d rather be sure on the amount.

  40. by Justin

    Jason- if you cant have nitrates just dont use curing salt, use regular salt instead. Curing salt isn’t needed to make jerky. I’ve made it for years without it and never had a problem. Even after storing at room temp for a week or two. Same goes for soy just don’t use it. Although I don’t know any off the top of my head i’m sure there are many recipes without soy.

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